Friday, October 25, 2013

Dresden musings

I am so excited to be starting in with the Dresden quilt blocks! (You may recall that I acquired 19 antique blocks from a family friend.) There are several reasons for the excitement. For one, I can tell you, this quilt will be a keeper. The blues and indigo are going to look great on my couch.

The second reason is, it's World Series time! There is no background noise I like better than the sound of baseball on the television. The announcers are restrained. They let the silence speak--and the crack of the bat, the thump of the ball in a glove. These rhythms of baseball made comfy grooves in my childhood soul. My brother and I spent countless hours together watching the Cincinnati Reds and, when our dad was present, gloating over their dominance of the NL West (Dad was a Dodgers fan).

So what goes better with baseball on TV than hand work? Time to sew these Dresden plates down. This is what they look like now:

The poor person who handstitched these plates made the seams a scotch too narrow, so they don't quite lie flat. No wonder she gave up on the project. So, my first job (on the machine) is to angle those seams in to the mouth. Then, I machine-stitch the mouth to the backing, and machine-baste about an inch from the outside edge. This will keep everything in place, and make the handwork less dicey.

Here's the front, after I appliqued the blue circle and stitched half of the fluted edge:

Here's the back, showing the back of the applique stitching.

As I stitched this morning I contemplated the irony. I cannot think of Dresden without thinking of the dreadful firebombing of that city. Shattered plates and horror all the way around. But the name of the pattern popularized just a few years before (the 1920s and 30s) appealed to women's romantic associations with that German city, and its ornately decorated porcelain wear. How much can change in so short a time.

Stitching the plates onto a background, and stitching the circles on top of the plates does nothing but reinforce the antique fabric. It's a vote for "picking up the pieces," for utility, beauty, and continued life!


Alas, I had to set aside this satisfying fun for an unwanted chore: making a Halloween costume for a distant young friend. The mere thought of a store-bought costume makes me cringe: the ticky-tacky fabric, the single-use wear, the slut factor in most commercial ready-to-wear costumes, the sweatshop labor, etc.... but mostly the concept that creativity comes wrapped in plastic for $29.99. So, invariably, I offer to sew--in this case, a witch's robe. Ulterior motive alert: when I made the offer, I had in mind a particular 4-yard length of loathsome polyester double-knit (in black!) occupying valuable space in my sewing room.

The last time I checked, my female recipient wore an extra large--in men's. I just happen to know an extra-large man, so I asked him to model the results of my efforts. He agreed--on condition of complete and total anonymity:

The hat was a mere $3.99. Thank Gaia that package is now at the post office and off of my "plates"!


  1. That's a lot of work on the Dresdens. Are all the backings and circles going to be the same color? I'm excited to see the finale! Nice witch's robe too. I may make my grand kid's costumes next year...but this year they are wearing store bought ones...which we got for $5 after halloween last year. I can't believe how expensive they normally are! I don't have many good childhood memories and your tellings about watching baseball w/your brother and dad made me smile. I'm not a huge sports fan but I've watched a few baseball movies over the last year and quite liked them. Have fun w/the plates.

    1. The sad thing is my dad is gone... and my brother and I don't talk much any more. We have to have separate holidays with my mom in order to avoid the drama.

  2. Thanks for sharing, I need your creative energy. Now that I am in school, I am doing nothing to be creative. Sadness. Isaac is going to be a football player for Halloween. Not so exciting for me but he loves it. Coarse he wants to be Suh, so need some black makeup and hairspray, or just a helmet :) Love the witch costume :)

    1. Wow, I forget you are in school... Ah well, "to every thing there is a season..." And don't you just love my model? It will be fun to take pics of Isaac and send them to Suh and post on Facebook. Looking forward to the Lions game on Thanksgiving! A cherished tradition!!

  3. Very cool project on antique dresdens! I too have a bundle of those, they are a keep for sure.